NEWS

Whistleblowers Optimistic About Treatment Under Obama

By Matthew Harwood

Whistleblowers and their advocates are optimistic that the Obama administration will more vigorously protect other government employees that divulge government misconduct in the public interest, reports ABC News.

Recent moves last week have buoyed these hopes.

Late last week, President Obama appointed two individuals to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), an administrative panel that hears employment appeals from federal employees, including cases that fall under the recently-passed Whistleblowers Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.

The picks - Susan Grundmann, general counsel for the National Federation of Federal Employees, and Anne Wagner, general counsel for the Personal Appeals Board of the U.S. Government Accountability Office were hailed by whistleblowers and watchdog groups as a first step in overhauling federal whistleblower protection laws.

"Unlike Bush administration appointees who compiled a 1-44 track record against whistleblowers, these leaders are seasoned veterans with a proven track record of commitment to the merit system throughout their careers," said Tom Devine, legal director of the nonprofit public interest group Government Accountability Project.

Devine called the appointments "a weathervane that the Obama Administration is serious about its good government rhetoric."

As ABC News also reports, whistleblowers will either have their hopes confirmed or dashed this week by the Obama administration when a former whistleblowing air marshal appeals his firing. In 2006, Robert MacLean was dismissed from his position as an air marshal for going to the news media in 2003, informing reporters that the Federal Air Marshal Service had eliminated air marshals from long-distance flights to cut costs. The stated reason for MacLean's firing was he disclosed sensitive information relating to transportation safety and security. In late June, MacLean learned that the MSPB had denied his request for whistleblower status.

MacLean and his attorney, according to the report, hope it will give the Obama administration the opportunity to "break the ranks and declare the firing unlawful."

Also included in ABC News' article is a gallery of whistleblowers that say they were fired or demoted for exposing government abuse and corruption. It's well worth a read.


Photo by hughelectronic/Flickr

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